Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle)
Here's another delicious certified Turkish eggplant recipe. I had mualle first in İstanbul at Çiya Restaurant. The owner and chef of Çiya, Musa Dağdeviren, is not only a great chef but also a passionate researcher of forgotten Anatolian recipes. He has traveled all around Anatolia and collected almost 4 thousand local recipes. That's why Çiya's menu changes daily. One of those 4 thousand recipes, Mualle, is a summer stew from Antakya. Mualle that I had at Çiya was so good that I got very excited when I found Dağdeviren's recipe in Food & Wine. Try this recipe before the last eggplants of the season start to disappear from farmers markets.
3-4 long narrow eggplants, peeled in lengthwise stripes
1/2 cup green lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 banana peppers or any long thin green chilies, seeded and chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped or 2 tbsp dry mint
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
2/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses (you can find pm easily at Middle Eastern markets)
-Peel the eggplant partially and leave lengthwise stripes of skin. Cut them into 4 lengthwise. Chop every piece crosswise into 3. Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let them stand for an hour.
-Bring green lentils to a boil with 2 cups of water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are soft.
-In a bowl mix tomatoes, green chilies, onion, garlic, mint, salt, crushed peppers, and tomato paste.
-Coat a small cast-iron casserole with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Put 1/2 cup of veggie mix on bottom. Cover with half of the eggplant, then half of the lentils, and half of the remaining veggie mix. Top first with remaining eggplant, then with lentils, and then with veggie mix.
-Pour olive oil around the side. Sprinkle pomegranate molasses.
-Bring the stew to a boil. Then cover and turn it down to low and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours.
Mualle is good with rice and yogurt.